The illusion of movement, the illusion of color : the Kinemacolor projector, archaeology and epistemology
Is part ofExposing the film apparatus : the film archive as a research laboratory ; p. 223-231
Publisher(s)Amsterdam University Press
The Kinemacolor projector : Produced between 1910 and 1914 by Natural Color Kinematograph Co., Kinemacolor projectors used panchromatized black-and-white 35mm film. The Kinemacolor projector in the Will Day collection at the Cinémathèque Française is 18.5 inches (47 cm) high, 11.4 inches (29 cm) long, and 13 inches (33 cm) wide. The cast iron encasement is inscribed with “Kinemacolor Urban-Smith Patents,” after its patent holders Charles Urban and George Albert Smith. Besides the usual shutter, a rotating disc fitted with red and green colored filters is mounted at the back of the machine, between the light and the film gate. An automatic light cut-off behind the disc prevented the heat of the light from burning the gelatin filters when the projector was stopped. Theoretical framing : This chapter explores an archaeological and epistemological approach to Charles Urban’s Kinemacolor projector as a machine. Archaeology considers machines as archives. Three types of archives can be distinguished: users’ gestures, performance practices, and specific modes of perception—the viewer’s perception of a Kinemacolor film resembles no other visual experience. The epistemology of the machine aims at reconstructing the set of concepts that constitute its basis and conditions of possibility. To achieve this, a precise technological description of the apparatus is needed, a description that reveals the perfect coherence of the technical, economical, aesthetic, and political aspects of Charles Urban’s enterprise.